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Mock Trial brings order to the court

Photo illustration by Owen Barbato
Grinnell College Mock Trial leader Kaycie Brookens `26 cross-examines Lily Piede `26.

Grinnell College Mock Trial members immersed themselves in a “delightfully dramatic, Hollywood true crime” case for their first invitational competition of the 2023-2024 school year, Mock Trial leader Lilli Morrish `25 said.

This year’s trial, decided by the American Mock Trial Association, is centered around a mythical art heist at a charity gala. Every college-level mock trial  team across the country receives the same case. The team’s use the information from this case packet to prepare statements to be memorized for the competition. 

“The idea is that you’re given a case packet which has a bunch of evidence exhibits,” Mock Trial leader Luka Mikek `24 said. 

The invitational took place at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Nov. 18 and 19. Over these two days, both of Grinnell’s teams participated in four rounds against schools such as the U.S. Air Force Academy and St. Louis University. 

Each team consisted of seven people, who adopted roles such as witness, defense attorney or prosecutor. Grinnell’s teams earned cumulative scores of 2-6 and 3-5 — the 8-round total for each team reflects that they took the sides of defense and prosecution in each of the four rounds.

Each part of the trial, such as the statements made by the attorneys and the witnesses, are scored by two judges during the proceeding, who remain impartial by using a number assignment to each school, not the name they are affiliated with. 

“There’s a lot of things that go into the scoring,” said Mock Trial leader Kaycie Brookens `26. Mikek added that scoring hinges on “how well you know your material, how persuasive you are with your speeches and how well you play the character.” The team with the higher score during the specific round is deemed the winner. 

Outstanding speaker Syd Weller `26 (Owen Barbato)

Following the judges’ rankings, 2 Grinnell Mock Trial members emerged as “outstanding witnesses” — Mikek with 17 marks and Syd Weller `26 with 20 marks, a perfect score.  

Mock Trial leader William Wu `26 remembers directing witnesses Weller and Lily Piede `26 during the competition. “They were both absolutely brilliant,” Wu said. “Their characters were really, really fun.”

Brookens said that the team as a whole started the competition in a state of “bad chaos.” “I think it turned into good chaos throughout the weekend. We were able to banter about it a little bit, and we made so many inside jokes.” 

The “bad chaos” that Brookens mentioned relates to the team’s overall lack of preparedness going into the invitational.  

“There was some stuff we didn’t have time to prepare,” said team member Braden Meiners `24. “We actually performed pretty well despite not being super prepared.”  

The Mock Trial team is looking forward to their regional competition at Drake University in the third weekend of February. They will be trying the same case, continuing to meet twice a week for the months leading up to the competition. The team’s main focus will be preparing for the competition ahead of time. “Hopefully we can spend these months polishing, and practicing and getting everybody really set to go,” Mikek said. 

“It’s such a cool experience to be doing one thing all day for multiple days, surrounded by people who you become very close to. This is really special,” Morrish said.

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About the Contributors
Addie Persian
Addie Persian, Staff Writer
Addie is a first year from a town smaller than Grinnell (yes, it’s possible) in the middle of Minnesota. She enjoys playing tennis, shopping, eating sour candy, and going to the casino; all of which are definitely not an addiction… She is intending to major in psychology and/or political science and loves to write both scientifically and journalistically.
Owen Barbato
Owen Barbato, Staff Photographer
Owen is a third-year psychology and political science major from South Pasadena, California. When he's not photographing for the paper, Owen enjoys taking nighttime and landscape photos. In his free time, Owen can be found trying to learn guitar and overanalyzing music.
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